Archive | January 2014

Momos and the Midnight Beast

Tamora Pierce is one of my all-time favorite authors. She brought forth the “fantasy novels with a kick-ass female lead” subgenre, which contains a lot of my favorite books. Who doesn’t love reading about bad-ass women with swords and magic saving the world? Anyways, in her most recent book, lots of foods are referenced, including dumplings called momos. I’d been meaning to try making dumplings since my trip to China and this seemed like an excellent opportunity. Also, the name is fun, and I couldn’t pass it up.

Dough: Put 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or in my case pastry flour) and 1/2 cup normal white flour into a bowl. Add water slowly and mix until a dough forms. When I did this the dough was fairly tough so I added a teaspoon of white vinegar – a trick I learned to  soften up dough when making empanadas. Cover with plastic wrap or stick in a plastic bag for later. Don’t let it dry out – that will cause problems later.

Filling: Dice or mince 3 cloves of garlic, 1/3 onion, a small knob of fresh ginger, some shiitake mushrooms, and some green cabbage (maybe a cup chopped). Chop the ginger really really small – I didn’t and as a result had some bits of filling that were basically just ginger and chili sauce, and that was a bit too much, even for me. Once all the veggies and spices are chopped, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tsp vegetable bullion. If you have bullion in dense cube form like me, just crumble it up – it will work just as well.

momo filling

Assembly: The easiest way to do this is to roll the dough out, as thin as possible, and cut out circles from the dough. I used one of my small glass bowls, but a biscuit cutter would do nicely as well. Put a circle of dough in the palm of your hand, and put 1-2 tablespoons of filling into it. At this point, there are two shapes you can make: grab all the edges of the circle and pinch them together like a draw-string bag to make the round momo; or fold it in half, pinching the edges together to make a half-moon. Of the two, the half-moon are easier and more efficient as you can stuff more filling in them. Steam for about 10 minutes or until done.

Some might have gotten stuck to the steamer ... oops

Some might have gotten stuck to the steamer … oops

These were awesome! Vegan, tasty, and full of veggies. More proof that food doesn’t have to be bad for you to taste awesome. There are all kinds of dipping sauces one can use, but I mixed some soy sauce with Thai chili sauce and a little sugar. Ideally, momos should be served with green tea, but it was late and I’d had 3 cups of tea already so I just went with water. Also important to note – these do not reheat very well. I made 12 total with this recipe, which was a perfect 2 servings, so just keep that in mind (or plan on feeding someone else too). These tasted similar enough to what I’d eaten in China that I think I can safely say they are fairly authentic. Now for the other reference.  The Midnight Beast was introduced to me last weekend by one of my friends and now I am totally obsessed. They are a British comedy-singing trio (like Flight of the Conchords, or Ylvis) and just amazing. This is my favorite, but there are tons of other videos.

Roman Holiday

I’m a big fan of themes. And connecting areas of my life together to create one coherent whole of awesomeness. That tendency has led to this week’s meal – an ancient Roman feast. Many years after the fact I decided to watch Rome. I’m a solid TV binger so I watched all 22 episodes in about a week. As as result, I began thinking about Roman food. Naturally, this led to internet-land where all things can be found. Recipes were found! Real recipes, that were translated from Latin and held no historical inaccuracies. Seriously, if there is a reference to tomatoes, that is horribly incorrect. Horribly – those are native to the Americas. Fortunately for me, while Romans enjoyed eating dormice (totally a thing) and songbirds, they also ate veggies. As a result I was able to cobble together a sort-of-accurate Roman meal for myself.

Roman meal

I ended up with two dishes: one egg dish and one salad. The egg dish was extremely simple. I adapted it from this recipe. When in doubt, I assume PBS knows what its talking about. My bastardized version was very easy. Soak a handful of pine nuts in a couple tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Soft boil a couple eggs. A major irony of my life is that I am an amazing cook and yet have issues boiling eggs. The method in the recipe worked fairly well (put eggs in water, bring water to boil, and boil for 3-5 minutes. Plunge immediately into cold water), although look elsewhere if you prefer harder cooked eggs. Once the eggs are done, add some honey to the vinegar and pine nuts, and blend it all in a blender. I don’t have a blender – I tried using a standard handmixer and that failed horribly. I ended up just spooning the pine nut mixture over the eggs.

The salad came from here, with of course a few modifications. I took a cup of frozen chopped spinach and de-thawed it. With that I added 2 pinches of thyme, some black pepper, half of a medium leek, thinly sliced, and a some mint, about 2 tablespoons chopped. Since I didn’t have a mortar and pestle, I mashed the ingredients together the best I could using a wooden spoon. Then I added some feta cheese and mashed that in as well. Add a little white wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil and you are good to go.

The whole meal was delicious. Even without being sauce per se, the pine nut egg thing was yummy (next time more honey though) and the salad was awesome, albeit a little dry, and a little salty. It tasted best when I scooped it onto fresh bread, but it was still a solid 9 out of 10 when eaten by itself. You could also bake it on top of pizza dough or pastry dough, which I imagine would be delicious and am making a mental note to try very very soon. Roman food, of course, must be served with wine (beer was considered barbaric). I had an internal debate over what would be the most accurate type of wine – I decided on a Greek white I had recently tried and enjoyed. Any Italian or Greek wine would be close to historically accurate I presume. In theory I could have also attempted to make honeyed wine, but if I was going to that far, I’d just buy mead and serve it with a Viking meal.


Happy New Year!

And Happy one-year anniversary of this blog! I can’t quite believe that it’s been an entire year but apparently it has – many new recipes were tried, much delicious food was eaten, and so it shall continue! In honor of the one-year anniversary, this week, I am posting two recipes, instead of one.

Pannukakku: As I continue to explore other countries’ foods, I’ve come across some interesting names, and solid dishes. This one was described as a Finnish pancake, but in reality it is a Finnish Yorkshire Pudding. I found the recipe on NPR’s wonderful food blog Kitchen Window.

1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon butter

Butter a large 8X8 baking dish – I leave the little chunks of leftover butter in the pan, as it will just melt. Mix together the egg and milk, then add the salt and flour and whisk until smooth. Let the batter rest for 10-15 minutes, while you pre-heat the oven to 425. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes. The result is a lovely light and fluffy yorkshire pudding (essentially). You can serve it with sweet or savory toppings. I chose cheese and tomatoes, and washed it down with ale (a farmhouse saison ale to be specific). Easy, fast, few ingredients, and endlessly versatile. All in all a great choice for a quick weekday meal.

Pannukakku, beer, and a book on kick-ass women from the Middle Ages

Pannukakku, beer, and a book on kick-ass women from the Middle Ages

Beer Rice: This sounds weird, I know, but it worked surprisingly well. It is, in essence, rice cooked in beer, along with a few other ingredients. I got this recipe from the cookbook Students Go Vegetarian, which as you can guess, is designed for people with limited money and time and a general liking of beer. I tend to find its recipes fairly bland, so naturally I improved upon it.

1/2 poblano chile, chopped
1/3 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1 cup beer
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
Spinach (fresh or frozen)

Saute the chile, onion, and garlic for a few minutes in a medium saucepan (absolutely a saucepan). After the onion begins to soften, add the coriander and cumin. Saute for another minute. Then add the rice, water, and beer. Its important to use a beer you like – not a beer you want to get rid of – as the flavor will remain. Bring the rice to a boil, then cover, lower the heat, and let simmer for 40 minutes or until the rice is done. Once the rice is done, add some red bell pepper and some spinach, and cover again so the bell pepper cooks a bit.

beer rice

This one tasted good, but a bit weird to me. Not bad weird, but more “hmmm, interesting, how do I feel about this?” weird. I think its due to the coriander – I rarely cook with it, and by that I mean I bought some for the first time today. This dish makes a lot, and its fairly dense/filling, so you don’t need to worry about a side dish, or needing to make a lunch for work the next day. Also, you can probably add more veggies if you want. Naturally you should serve this dish with some of whatever beer you were cooking with!